Charter Schools: One Way to Close the Educational Achievement Gap

Charter Schools: One Way to Close the Educational Achievement Gap

Diversity is not an aspirational concept; it is America. As the American population and workforce become increasingly more diverse, we can’t afford to ignore the wide achievement gap that exists between students from African American and Latino backgrounds and white students.

Startling Statistics
The latest ACT scores show that:

College-ready in math:                           
54% of white students
14% of African American students
30% of Hispanic students

College-ready in science:
45% of white students
10% of African American students
21% of Hispanic students

Further, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that

of 25-29 year olds with bachelor’s degrees:
39% are non-Hispanic whites
19% are African-Americans
14% are Hispanics

Status Quo Is Not Setting Up All Kids for Success
Yet the way the current public schools system is designed, the most at-risk students are being set up for failure. The system rewards higher-achieving schools with more money and gives the least to low-performing schools. Because urban communities with large non-white populations typically have lower test scores for a variety of socio-economic reasons, schools in these neighborhoods are not getting the funds they need to improve student achievement and compete for college acceptance, scholarships, and the top jobs.

Narrowing the Achievement Gap
One option for giving all students a chance to succeed academically, regardless of economic or racial background, is charter schools. Under-resourced, low-performing, and/or over-crowded public schools, which may have discipline or other culture-wide problems, often leave concerned parents looking for other options.

Some families feel forced to send their children great distances to attend better schools. If their children are fortunate enough to qualify, they might get accepted into a high-quality magnet school or other selective enrollment school, such as a regional gifted center. Another option that is free and open to all students is charter schools. Among the benefits of charter schools are:

  1. Tuition-free, high-quality education
  2. Higher standards both in and out of the classroom
  3. Proven preparation for higher education
  4. Community involvement and partnerships
  5. More individualized student attention
  6. Frequent parent-teacher conferences
  7. Positive school culture and conduct codes

A Prosperous Future Is a Diverse Future
Not all charter schools achieve high levels of success, and not all charter schools service at-risk students; Concept Schools does both. Since 1999, Concept Schools has achieved a great level of success in serving primarily minority and low-income neighborhoods that are lacking high-quality, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) focused education. Considering the projected growth of STEM jobs in the next few decades, now more than ever students need a strong foundation in these subjects in order to compete for these rewarding and high-paying jobs.

All children deserve the access to the best education possible. Ultimately a quality education benefits not only the student, but the larger community. Concept Schools are great places for kids to see just what kinds of opportunities the world can offer them.

Concept Schools in an Illinois-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charter management organization, which established its first school in Ohio in 1999, and has since expanded to 29 charter schools spread across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Concept-managed schools have achieved a number of successes over the years include, but are not limited to, two Blue Ribbon Awards by the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Title I Distinguished School Award, “Excellent” and “Excellent with Distinction” and “Effective” ratings by the applicable state Departments of Education, and being portrayed in the research about high-performing schools such as “Needles in Haystack” of the Fordham Foundation. Concept was also was among the highest-performing charter networks in a 2013 research study by CREDO of Stanford University. Most recently, one of its member schools, Chicago Math & Science Academy, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, received the highest College Persistence Rating from Chicago Public Schools for non-selective high school 2012 graduates. For more information about Concept Schools, please visit conceptschools.org.

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